HHP Canine Rescue Code of Ethics
January, 2009


This Code of Ethics was originally created in 2007 for the rescue community in Canada by the Founding Committee (see below). Since that time, it has been reviewed and commented on by over 40 rescue groups in Canada and subsequently modified based upon the groups that commented on it. Helping Homeless Pets has adopted this code of ethics as our official code and all of our member rescues have agreed to adhere to this code. Should you have any comments or feedback concerning this code, please contact us at: ethics@helpinghomelesspets.com, we welcome your comments.

This Code of Ethics is protected by Copyright and may not be re-produced in whole or part without express written permission of the committee.



Section 1 – Definitions

Words importing the singular number only shall include the plural and vice versa and words importing a specific gender shall include the other gender. The word “person” shall include adopter, adopters, affiliates, corporate, corporations, companies, members, partnerships, representatives, rescues, rescuers, syndicates, trusts and any number of aggregate of persons; and

The headings or Clauses used in this Code of Ethics are inserted for reference purposes only.  They are not to be considered or taken into account in construing the terms and provisions thereof, nor to be deemed in any way to clarify, modify or explain the effect of any such terms or provisions.

In this Code of Ethics:

“Adopter” – means any person or persons who legally takes ownership of a dog by signing an adoption contract with a non-profit organization that may include an adoption fee. All references to the term “adopter” are interchangeable with “potential adopter” and is to include the singular or plural forms in the context of this document.

“Animal” – means any member of the animal kingdom, other than a human.

“Founding Committee” – means the committee of people that created this Code of Ethics.

“Grievance” – means an individual or group who believes a violation of this Code of Ethics has occurred and a formal complaint/grievance has been registered.

“Dog” – means a male or female dog over the age of 4 months.

"Member" - means a Rescue or Rescuer who has undertaken to abide by this Code of Ethics.

“Must” – means this condition is a requirement of meeting the Code of Ethics.

“Owner” – means any person or organization that has legal custody and responsibility of an animal. This would include a person who has paid and entered into a contract and/or paid an adoption fee to take custody of an animal to a rescue or shelter. This owner can not be a minor.

“Puppy” – means a male or female dog 4 months of age or younger.

“Region” - means a geographic area and will represent different areas to different rescues. It may be a province, part of a province, a town or group of towns.

“Rescue” - means a non-profit organization.  It may be registered or recognized by one of the Provinces or territories of Canada, the Federal Government, or it may be the work of one or more individuals. It is realized and accepted that there are many different rescues at different stages of development and maturity. All references of the term “Rescue” may be interchangeable with the term “Rescuer” and is to include the singular or plural forms in the context of this document.

“Rescuer” – means an individual person.  This person may be a member or volunteer for a rescue group.  All references of the term “Rescuer” may be interchangeable with the term “Rescue” and is to include the singular or plural forms in the context of this document.

“Screen or Screening” – means the process of determining if a potential adopter would qualify to adopt a dog or a specific dog from a rescue. Foster homes are also screened to ensure they would be a suitable temporary home for a dog.

“Should” – this condition of the Code of Ethics is recommended, but is at the discretion of the Rescue.

“Violation” – means a mandatory condition or clause contained in this COE has  been breached by a member.



Section 2 – Committees

2.1 The Founding Committee

This Rescue Code of Ethics was created by a group of concerned people from various rescue groups, backgrounds and experience.  The objective of the group was to create a Code of Ethics that all legitimate rescues could follow, and that would give the public some basic expectations and guidelines, and offer them a measure of trust with the Rescues that adhere to this code.

Committee Members and their positions within their own Organization

Catherine Denny-Forewell
Canadian Yorkshire Terrier Rescue

Jocelyn M Dollack
President, JRTCC
JRT Rescue Co-ordinator

Luan Egan
Southern Ontario Border Collie Rescue

Robert Goddard
Helping Homeless Pets

Lorraine Houston
Director, Speaking of Dogs 

Lyndsey Watson
Member, Board of Directors
Great Dane Rescue Inc. 

Nicole Wright
Ontario ARPH Rescue Representative
ARPH (Australian Shepherd Rescue and Placement Helpline Inc.)



Section 3 – General

3.1 To conduct rescue efforts as a not-for-profit endeavour, whether the Rescue is an organization or non-profit corporation recognized by the Province, the federal government or is the work of one or more private individuals.

(a) When conducting Rescue activities based upon the efforts of a volunteer workforce, members will receive no personal compensation for any rescue related work or endeavours. Rescues may, at their discretion, reimburse volunteers for out of pocket expenses.

(b) Where a Rescue Organization is incorporated as a non-profit corporation and hires employees to oversee their operations; 

(i)    Those employees will receive only their agreed upon wages and health benefits as allowed by Provincial  or Federal regulation.
(ii)   Rescues may, at their discretion, reimburse employees for out of pocket expenses.
(iii)  Employees will not receive additional personal benefits or bonuses linked to their association or employment with the non-profit rescue organization from any source.


3.2 Contact information is to be provided, including the name(s) of the primary operator(s) of the Rescue Group, with a current mailing address, phone number, and an e-mail address, if applicable.


3.3 To educate potential adopters, pet owners, the animal community, etc., about the unique issues of breed selection to the best of the Rescuers’ knowledge. Rescues may provide referrals to other reputable Rescues, if applicable, to obtain more educational information or optimize the potential to adopt a more suitable match.


3.4 Each Rescue should ensure all volunteers within the Rescue are educated about and aware of the standards of the Rescue, this Code of  Ethics and internal procedures for fostering, temperament evaluation, transport, to the best of their knowledge.  Each Rescue should ensure that their members are informed of and understand the importance of confidentiality.


3.5 Each rescue will have a mission statement and will provide a copy of this mission statement as part of the application process to join HHP. The mission statement will contain information about the dogs that rescue group focuses on. Rescues may specialize in a certain breed(s), a certain group of dogs, a certain age group, a specific region(s) or any combination of these. A region may be a municipality, a province, a state, a country or countries or any part thereof. Rescues that specialize in puppies, by intent, will not be not sanctioned by this code of ethics.


3.6 No Rescue shall use the breeding of puppies as a means to fund rescue activities. No dogs will be bred, either intentionally or unintentionally, after being received into Rescue. If such a breeding were to occur, the pregnancy is to be terminated and the female spayed forthwith as soon as this procedure can safely be performed by a veterinarian.


3.7 Rescues, to the best of their knowledge, will provide full disclosure in the dog’s biography that is available for screened potential adopters.  The bio should include known health issues, temperament issues, age (if known) and region the dog came from. Rescue will also provide full disclosure as to the source of the dog, i.e. owner surrender, shelter, puppy mill, stray, etc.  The confidentiality of the surrenderer will be protected and information may be withheld to protect the identity of the surrenderer, the adopter and for the safety of all concerned including the dog.




Section 4 – Surrender Process

4.1 No Rescue shall act as a sole repository or adoption facilitator for any breeder’s unsold animals.


4.2 Rescue may receive animals from a variety of sources.  Under no circumstances should an animal be deemed as bought or purchased nor should a rescue pay a fee for a surrendered animal. Nominal fees paid to a licensed animal rescue or shelter to release ownership of an animal or fees solely for services rendered (i.e. immunization or spay/neuter) are not considered buying or purchasing an animal under this Code of Ethics.


4.3 Rescue may establish a policy on surrender fees and may collect this fee at their discretion.  Persons or facilities surrendering an animal should be encouraged to make a donation to the rescue.  It should be disclosed to the persons or facility that are surrendering an animal, that this donation is to help offset the cost of veterinary services and re-homing the animal.


4.4 Rescue will provide a legal Surrender Contract and will require the person who is considered the legal owner of the dog to sign and date the contract.  The contract will also be signed and dated by an authorized representative of the rescue.


4.5 The Surrender Contract will specifically state that the legal ownership of the dog is being transferred to the rescue.  Upon signing the contract, the person or facility surrendering the dog has no further legal or other claim to the dog.



Section 5 – Fostering and Care of Animals

5.1 All dogs are spay/neutered prior to adoption. If a Veterinarian deems the dogs can never be safely spay/neutered then that dog is exempt from this clause. If a veterinarian has deemed the dog may be safely spay/neutered at a later date or in the case of a puppy under 6 months of age, then the rescue may choose one of the following:

a) Approve a prospective adoptive home as a foster home and place the dog there. Once the dog is spay/neutered the adoption can be completed.

b) Include the cost of spay/neuter in the adoption fee and complete the adoption. The adoption contract would specifically state that the dog must be altered at the age of 6 months or when safe to do so.  The rescue would then make arrangements to spay/neuter the dog when they reach 6 months of age or when safe to do so. Dogs that are not spayed/neutered may not be placed in a home with unaltered dogs under any circumstances.


5.2 Foster parents must sign declaration form that they have never been convicted of an offence involving animal cruelty.


5.3 Rescue must carefully screen its own foster homes including home inspection, personal and vet references.


5.4 Rescue shall ensure that all animals in their care are provided with proper nutrition, water, personal attention and exercise.


5.5 Rescue shall ensure that all animals in their care are provided with a safe, clean and appropriate living environment that is suitable to the particular needs of each animal. Over-crowding of any animals, or animals kept in unsanitary conditions is in violation of this code of ethics.


5.6 Rescue shall ensure that all animals in their care receive prompt veterinary evaluation and necessary medical attention.  Each rescue should define what standard procedures, tests and vaccinations are given to animals in their care.


5.7 Rescue shall ensure that all animals in their care receive appropriate personal attention and exercise, behavioural assessments or training required for the well being of the animal and to ensure each animal is compatible with potential adopter(s).



Section 6 – Assessment of Animals

6.1 Rescue shall ensure that all animals in their direct care are appropriately assessed and evaluated for their temperament and behaviour, and retained until considered fully evaluated to the best of the rescue’s ability.  Such evaluations and assessments are utilized to find the most suitable adopter.  Rescue shall advise the adopter of the assessment that has been completed.


6.2 Rescue shall advise and ensure that the adopter understands that the assessment that has been completed is only an indication of the animal's temperament at the time of assessment and under the conditions tested. Many factors affect an animal’s behaviour and the assessment, in no way, guarantees the future behaviour of the animal.



Section 7 – Adoption Process

7.1 Rescue must carefully screen prospective adoptive homes to help ensure that the adoption will be successful. Criteria that are used in making this determination are personal interviews as well as personal and Veterinary reference checks. Potential adopters must consent to access for a home check as part of the approval process, which may be conducted by the rescue at their discretion, or by an authorized representative.


7.2 Rescue will provide a legal Adoption Contract and will require the person who will be the legal owner of the dog to sign and date the contract.  The contract will also be signed and dated by an authorized representative of the rescue.

a) Rescue must include and honour a clause in their Adoption Contracts that requires the adopter to notify the Rescue facilitating the adoption if for any reason they cannot continue to keep their adopted animal, and return the animal to the care and custody of the Rescue who facilitated the adoption if no other course of action can be agreed upon by both parties.


7.3 At the time the adoption is completed, information about specific medical procedures, tests, known health issues, known temperament issues and medications that the dog has received would be provided to the adopter.


7.4 Animals already in the adoptive home must be spayed or neutered unless actively showing, on a breeding contract or are medically unable to be spayed or neutered.


Section 8 – Conduct

8.1 Members are to carry out their rescue activities in a professional, positive and considerate manner, so that their representation brings credit to their own Rescue and other ethical Rescues/rescuers.


8.2 Members shall not utilize Rescue discounts or donations specifically made for the benefit of animals in the rescue for personal gain or benefit.


8.3 Members should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues during communications with the public.


8.4 Members will assist other reputable Rescue(s)/Rescuer(s), when able, as per their stated needs and instructions. Such assistance may take the form of: visiting and/or assessing animals to be surrendered or transferred; visiting/assessing potential adopters, volunteers and foster homes; assisting with transport, or temporary housing. The requesting Rescue/Rescuers stated policies and guidelines must be respected and followed. 


8.5 Rescue/Rescuers will not use their position to divert a dog, a potential adopter or a potential foster home into their own or any other Rescue without the expressed permission of the Rescue/Rescuer who initiated the request.



Section 9 – Acceptance and Compliance

9.1 Each Member is to abide by and accept this Code of Ethics.


9.2 Each Member indemnifies and holds harmless the Committee, its individual representatives, affiliates, volunteers, and members thereof from any and all known or unknown, anticipated or unanticipated, suspected or unsuspected and /or fixed, conditional or contingent, actions, causes of actions, charges, suits, debts, demands, claims, contracts, covenants, liens, rights, liabilities, losses, royalties, costs, expenses, (including without limitation, attorneys’ fees in any Court of law) or damages, loss, and not limited to liability howsoever caused in every respect, nature and description, at law or in equity, in connection or arising under this Code of Ethics. Rescue does not waive any related rights or obligations.




Would you like to join our mailing list?

Please click here.


  Locations of visitors to this page

    About Us Our Sponsors Help Us Grow Advertise with Us Support Us    
Helping Homeless Pets, Charitable Registration No. 84972 2954 RR0001
135 Main St. N, Suite 303
Markham, ON, Canada
L3P 1Y2

Email:  info@helpinghomelesspets.com

©2010 Helping Homeless Pets
All Rights Reserved.